Being a caregiver to a person facing a life-threatening illness is no easy task. The day-in and day-out of focusing on another person’s needs can be taxing. Here are a few tips for caregivers to make sure you can provide quality care to your loved ones, without sacrificing your own well-being.
1. Seek Support
Whether it is through a support group, friend, or therapist, it is important to have an outlet outside of the loved one you are caring for. A support system is necessary to help you process emotions and receive outside perspective. It is also important to accept help from your support system, even if it is something small like picking up groceries. A caregiver can suffer burnout when they take on too many responsibilities.
2. Stay Organized
It may take extra time in the beginning, but keeping medical information and documents organized can save a lot of headaches down the road. Whatever your preferred organization system is, set it up so important items can be easily found. It’s also important to make sure your family’s legal documents are in order. This provides guidance and prevents confusion for those that may need to take over care due to an unforeseen event.
Everything is easier when communication is clear. It’s especially helpful to learn how to communicate effectively both with doctors and your support system. If it feels like doctor visits fly by with information being missed or questions being forgotten, take a moment to write down your questions before visits. This way you’ll get the answers you’re looking for. A notebook can also be handy in jotting down information the doctor provides. Plus, if something is missed, there’s a record you can refer to after the visit. This takes the burden away from you trying to extract and receive information at the same time—all while trying to remember everything. When it comes to our support systems, they can’t always anticipate needs before we ask. Being transparent about your needs to your support system is the best way to help them help you!
When taking care of someone, it is more important than ever to stay healthy and strong. Without good health, it makes it harder to care for another person. Don’t forget to take time and focus on your individual needs: exercise, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep. Simply caring for your health and having good habits will help you be the best caregiver you can be.
Going on a respite is not only important for those facing illness, but it also is much needed for caregivers. A week away from the day-to-day responsibilities of caregiving offers a much-needed reset and time to relax. To learn more about how you can apply for a Week Away respite, visit our application page and learn more about the process.